“I can’t handle him/her.”
“He/she is creating a lot of disturbance in my class.”
“Shouldn’t he/she be going to some special school?”
“He/She isn’t ready to learn.”
“It’s so difficult to teach him/her.”
These are some of the common things children with autism hear from their teachers and tutors. While we know that teaching students with autism spectrum disorder can be hard, we should also understand that there is nothing ‘abnormal’ in these children. They are just ‘different’.
The hyperactivity children with severe autism show you, is their cry for help when they are going through anxiety attacks and extreme mental health issues, or when they are unable to connect with other people.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is seen almost in every 1 out of 60 children. So if you are a teacher and haven’t come across an Autistic student yet, chances are that you will soon do. Therefore, you need to learn to handle and teach an autistic child.
In this post, we are going to share 8 effective tips that will help you in teaching students with autism. But before that, we are going to have an understanding of what autism is, its characteristics, and what challenges many autistic children to face in their day-to-day lives. Keep Reading!
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a child’s developmental or neurodevelopmental condition that causes tons of behavioral changes. Also, they usually have problems communicating and socializing with others.
Children or students with autism may have a slower process of learning, problem-solving, and thinking as compared to other students. However, ASD is called a ‘spectrum’ disorder because its symptoms and signs vary from being mild to moderate.
What are the Causes of Autism?
Well, this is a tricky question. Though the exact cause or causes of ASD are still unknown, after a lot of autism research, some researchers say the reason can be genetics. If a father or mother is autistic, there are high chances they will give birth to children with autism.
Other than that, no environmental factors or vaccines are found to be a cause of autism.
Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder
As we have briefly mentioned above, there is a reason why we call this autism disorder “spectrum”. All Autistic people will have different characteristics and behavioral patterns. Also, their communication skills and social skills level will be different as well.
Below, we are telling and dividing the characteristics of Autism into two categories. Read on!
Category # 1 – Communication & Social Interaction Problems
The following characteristics fall under the category of communication and social interactions problems:
- Unable to do have the normal day-to-day conversation.
- Hiding their emotions and feelings.
- Unable to understand facial expressions or verbal instructions.
- Facing difficulty in understanding their relationships or friendships with others.
Category # 2 – Repetitive Behaviors, Patterns, and Activities
Following characteristics fall under the category of Repetitive behaviors, patterns, and activities:
- Clapping their hands repeatedly.
- Speaking in a high-pitch sound or loud way.
- Indulging in uncommon and weird activities.
- Excessively touching and smelling things.
- Easily irritated with loud sounds or noise.
- Love watching bright and fluorescent lights.
Significant Challenges Students with Autism Face
Sometimes, even the most experienced teachers fail to understand children with autism and identify the challenges they go through. Also, they should know that Autism itself is not a learning disability. Autism affects learning and makes children go through unexpected things.
Here is a list of a few significant issues and challenges students and children face, almost every day:
One of the most common yet devastating challenges students with autism face is constant bullying. They are picked on and made fun of by other students. Why? Because they are generally ‘different’ from other students and children; They act differently, they love fluorescent lights, and they can’t communicate properly, right? But that is not fair! Therefore, it is important for teachers to educate every child about autism so that they treat students with autism accordingly.
Children with autism are usually lonely, misunderstood, and isolated. Therefore, their chances of developing mental and emotional disorders are high. These emotional disorders can include anxiety and depression.
8 Effective Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Teaching students with autism is challenging, we know. But trust me; it is more rewarding than challenging. Once you understand how to teach students and children with autism, things will be smooth for you and for them too.
Here are our top 8 effective tips to help you get started:
1. Build an Organized Environment
An organized and structured nursery school or learning environment encourages children with autism to learn more efficiently. Therefore, it would be great if you make lesson plans, a proper schedule & routine, and clear structures for autistic children to feel more comfortable. However, make sure that the lesson plans include everything; what needs to be done, when, and what is left to do after that.
2. Use Exceptional Communication Techniques
As we have mentioned before, teaching children with autism, you will need to improve your communication techniques and skills to interact with them in the best manner possible. Good teachers opt for learning sign language or eye contact for autistic children with speech problems. Additionally, you can use the Facilitated communication technique where you use portable communication devices and ask an autistic student to press their keys.
3. Use Loads of Visuals
Visuals are the key element to building an ideal learning environment for children with autism. Why? Well, visual information will be easy to absorb for a student with autism. Therefore, we recommend you teach children with the help of picture cards, picture books, photographs, line drawings, and the “if/then” sign cards.
Moreover, picture schedules and timetables also play a significant role in helping children with autism to learn better.
4. Communicate in a Clear Language
Many children with autism unable to understand figurative language and hard-to-understand concepts because they lack social skills. Therefore, always teach and communicate with students with autism in an easy and direct language or wording.
5. Don’t Sensory Overload them
Children and students with autism are usually having under-sensitive or over-sensitive issues with their sensory stimuli. And sometimes, we don’t even notice these sensory issues in students and forget to avoid sensory overload in class. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid all the triggers in class including strong smells & perfumes, loud sounds & noise, and echoes.
6. Avoid Giving them Stress
Stress is also one of the most significant triggers than aggravate the symptoms in an autistic child. Also, stress can further make them depressed or anxious, while affecting their social skills as well. That is why you need to avoid this trigger as much as you can while teaching children with autism.
7. Be Patient with them
Students with autism tend to have a lower learning process, and it is not their fault. Therefore, it is essential to give them some extra time for every task, and most importantly, always model patience with them. Also, give them some additional time to absorb all the information you may give, and repeat it until they fully understand.
8. Treat them As Normal
Last but not least, treat students with autism as normal individuals. Focus on their strengths, weaknesses, and keep in mind to always treat them with utmost respect and patience.
Students with autism have the right to education like we all do, and they deserve the same respect and love too! So, if you are a teacher dealing with students with autism, we recommend you go through our teaching tips, and also look for any more information you can find to improve their social skills. We are sure that with a little practice, dedication, and patience, you will surely learn everything!
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